He Shall Reign Forever
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He Shall Reign Forever

Isaiah 9:7  (ID: 2918)

When you hear the phrase “the kingdom of God,” you may think of Jesus’ teachings during His earthly ministry. In this message from Isaiah 9, Alistair Begg explains that this kingdom was actually prophesied long before our Savior’s birth in Bethlehem. Unlike earthly kingdoms, His government and authority will never end, and we can trust in Him completely.

Series Containing This Sermon

It is HIStory!

A Journey to the Heart of Christmas Isaiah 9:1–7 Series ID: 27101

Sermon Transcript: Print

We’re turning this morning for the final time to Isaiah chapter 9. These first seven verses of Isaiah 9 have been our focus since the first Sunday morning of December—the Advent period of time—and it seems appropriate for us to finish here on the first Sunday of this new year with the seventh verse:

Of the increase of his government and of peace
 there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
 to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
 from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.


Gracious God, with our Bibles open before us, we pray that the Spirit of God will be our teacher, that we might understand, that we might trust and obey and live in the light of your Word. For we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I spent a little while yesterday afternoon with one of my old friends, Sir Winston Churchill. He did not appear to me—do not be alarmed by this—except as he appeared to me on my laptop, on my iPad. He was in my mind for a number of reasons, and I went back and listened to a few of his speeches during the Second World War. I think the reason that I was there in my thinking was because of this whole notion of a kingdom that would never come to an end. And I was thinking, in my limited life, of kingdoms that I had known or experienced or had cognizance of.

I was thirteen on the thirtieth of January 1965, when Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral took place in London. I remember that. It was on the TV in black and white, and I had grown up admiring those speeches. And as I went back just to check a little, I thought, “I wonder how long Winston really lasted after the success of the Second World War.” Well, the Second World War ended in May of 1945, and at that time, as a wartime leader, Winston Churchill enjoyed 83 percent approval of the people. Within two months, in July, he and his government experienced a crushing defeat as the Conservative government was swept out of power. The kingdom was over. The leader was silenced. The proud speeches had—with a stroke of a pen, with the mark of an X—had come to an end. And that, of course, is the story of human history, is it not? History records the rise and fall of principalities and of empires. As we will say in our concluding hymn this evening, “Earth’s proud empires” eventually “pass away.”[1]

Now, it’s because we know that that when we read, for example, what we have read in these seven verses of Isaiah 9, we are immediately confronted by the fact that this kingdom, a kingdom that will last forever, is clearly no ordinary kingdom, and on this throne is no ordinary king. Incidentally, if you are skeptical about the things of the Bible, if you’re inquiring about these things, if you’re wondering—as I would assume some of you are—as you come to a verse like this, you have to really determine for yourself: Is this rhetoric, or is this reality? Is this just a kind of notion, a fantasyland, or is this expressive of unerring truth?

Let’s summarize for one another what we’ve really been discovering in the totality of this passage. In these seven verses, we have seen this: that a child is born, and that child is Jesus; he is the true King and Shepherd of Israel; and in him alone is to be found the peace that mankind needs. That’s really what we have been paying attention to. A child is born, the child is Jesus, he is the true King and Shepherd of Israel, and in him alone is to be found the peace that mankind needs.

Now, this seventh verse, although written so many hundreds of years before the incarnation and therefore thousands of years away from us today, actually is very contemporary in its focus. Because one would not be hard-pressed to substantiate the fact that the newspapers that are about to be ours tomorrow morning, whether here or throughout the rest of the world, will contain significant amounts of verbiage in relationship to the three issues that are here in verse 7: the issue of peace, the issue of justice, and the issue of righteousness.

Does the Bible have anything to say about peace, because globally mankind longs for peace? Does the Bible have anything to say concerning justice, so that wrongs may be righted and that equity might prevail? Does the Bible have anything to say about righteousness, about the moral dimension of individual life, those ethics which dog us or guide us as we seek to live in harmony with one another? Well, the answer is, of course, that the Bible has a tremendous amount to say about each. And the staggering claim that is here before us this morning is that God alone is the source of each of these aspects—that in him true peace is found, in him true justice is both displayed and defined, and in him righteousness is both legitimately demanded and is wonderfully provided.

And it is into the shadowlands in which these people that were the contemporaries of Isaiah—into these shadowlands of confusion and rebellion and oppression—that the light has shone. This light, as we’ve seen, is not a philosophy that is to be adopted, but when they gazed out of the darkness to the light, they realized that they were looking into the face of a person, that they were looking into the face of a child: “Unto us a child is born,” and “unto us a son is given.”[2] Some of us will be here on the first Sunday of a new year and actually asking questions that perhaps we think may be answered by a philosophical perspective, wondering about the issues of life. And it may be that you’ve never considered the fact that the Bible speaks not in terms of a concept or even a creed but actually speaks in terms of a person who is to be known, trusted, loved, a person who brings all that we long for.

In God true peace is found, in him true justice is both displayed and defined, and in him righteousness is both legitimately demanded and is wonderfully provided.

Paul Simon, I confess, is never far from my mind—not him as an individual but his lyrics. I’ve grown up with them; I’ve lived with them. And I found myself this morning waking up with another one. “Hello, darkness, my old friend”[3] has been our theme, as it were, through Advent. But then I woke up thinking, “Cloudy”—you know, “The sky is grey and white and cloudy. Sometimes I think it’s hanging down on me.” That’s the opening couple of lines from his song “Cloudy.” And I thought, “I wonder…” Because it has the phrase in it “They have no borders, no boundaries.” And I was only thinking borders and boundaries about kingdoms, and that’s what got me on to it—plus the clouds. And so, then I had to pull it up and look at it, and then I discovered that the final stanza, which I hadn’t paid much attention to all—I’d forgotten—reads as follows:

Hey, sunshine,
I haven’t seen you in a long time.
Why don’t you show your face and bend my mind?
These clouds stick to the sky
Like … floating question[s], Why?
And they linger there to die.
They don’t know where they’re going,
And, my friend, neither do I.[4]

“They don’t know where they’re going, … my friend, neither do I.”

That might be exactly where you are this morning. You’ve come to the first Sunday of the new year, and you might as well look up into the sky and see the movement of the spheres and say, “I don’t know where they’re going, and I’ve frankly no idea of myself.” And you may be ready to run around into the various bookstores and places and buy yourself up all kinds of self-help literature or whatever it might be. And I want, before you go on that quest, to say to you, “Here’s an opportunity to consider this—Isaiah 9:7.” This child with the four names, we learn, presides over a kingdom—a kingdom that is established not by oppression and by tyranny but instead by justice and by righteousness.

Now, if you know your Bible at all, you will realize that this prophecy here is on the heels, if you like, of the promises of God that have preceded it. The people of God, called out by him and to live under his banner and to believe his truth, had found themselves, at the end of the period of the judges, in a real mess. In fact, the period of the judges ends with the statement that “in that time, the people had no king, and everybody did what was right in their own eyes.”[5] It was a form of anarchy and chaos.

As a result, the people decided that maybe if they could have a king, if they could have a different kind of government, if some other established structure could be put in place, maybe that would be the answer to their problems. How quickly and easily we look for the government to provide the answers to our problems, not facing the fact that we are our own biggest problem—but that’s for another day entirely. And so God, somewhat reluctantly but graciously, gave them a king. But the kings came, and the kings went, as kings inevitably do: morally failing, religiously failing, one failing because he had too many wives, one failing because he never lived properly with his wife, and so on. So whether it was Saul, whether it was David, whether it was Solomon himself, eventually, the people were left with the sense, “There has to be a king to out-king all these kings.” It’s kind of like a gigantic chess game.

And so the end of the Old Testament is the longing for this enigmatic person who will come, who will sit on David’s throne. Because that had been the promise that God had made to David. He was reiterating previous promises that run through the entirety of the Old Testament, but it came to focus there: “And this will be a king who will reign forever and ever.”[6] And so, in the minds of the people, they had that expectation. And they were looking forward, and they were longing for this individual.

But there were four hundred years of silence in between the testaments, and then you turn into the New Testament, and unless one is aware of what I’m just pointing out, then it won’t immediately make sense. It will sort of come completely out of the blue. So, for example, imagine for a moment that without any of that background, you are Mary—that is, Mary who is betrothed to Joseph. You’re six months pregnant, the baby is kicking, and you are quite amazed at everything. And

in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[7]

She said, “Oh that’s jolly nice! Thank you.” No: “She was greatly troubled at the saying,” as you would be as well, I think. So

the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”[8]

And then the angel left.

Well, that is dramatic, even given the background. But without the background, it is quite incredible: “I’m going to have a child. That in itself is remarkable, since I’ve never had sex. This child is going to be a savior. This child is going to be a king. This child’s kingdom will last forever and ever; therefore, this king will have no one to succeed him, no one who will come after him, no one who will do a better job.”

The nature of political transitions is that there is always someone coming after you. Have you noticed that already some of the political pundits are brave enough to stick their wooden heads up above the parapet and begin to talk to about 2016? We’ve hardly shaken the dust off the realities of 2012. We haven’t even inaugurated the new president, and already they’re chomping at his feet, or whatever else it is, getting ready to dismantle his kingdom and put someone else in his place. It’s the inevitable way of things. But not with this kingdom!

No, this one will have no successor. There will be nobody to come after him, no one to replace him. You see, he is the Wonderful Counselor. He needs no one to interpret what he says. He doesn’t need Mary Baker Eddy’s silly book. He is the Wonderful Counselor. He doesn’t need the charlatan nonsense of Joseph Smith and all that marks the foundations of Mormonism.

No, he’s either who he says is, or he isn’t. And if he is who he says he is, then he is what he is. And Mary is amazed at this. And thirty years, and we fast-forward, and onto the stage of history this baby, now full grown as a thirty-year-old man, steps forward, and what is his opening line? “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”[9]

And people must have said, “And who do you think you are?”

“I’m the King.”

“Oh, you are? You didn’t have much of a beginning, did you?”

“No, admittedly, no. It wasn’t particularly striking, I agree.”

“You haven’t lived in a palace. Apparently, you lived in a workshop. You’re the king?”

“Yes, I’m the King.”

How in the world is anyone ever going to believe that? How would they believe it then, and how would they believe it today? That’s the question, isn’t it?

Neither a Temporal nor Local Kingdom

Now, with all that by way of background, it is important that we understand what this kingdom isn’t and what this kingdom is. And we’ll just notice that, and then our time will be through.

First of all, we need to notice that this kingdom is neither temporal nor local. It is neither temporal nor local. In other words, it is an unbounded kingdom, both geographically and temporally. We’ve already pointed out that kingdoms have boundaries. And that’s why we have passports. That’s why we move from country to country. That’s why we are able to rehearse history and say, “There was a time when there was a Roman Empire. There was a time when there was a Greek Empire. There was a time when there was a British Empire,” and so on. But they’re all gone now, really. They’re pretty well done. It’s a long time since the 1950s, post–Second World War—“Rule, Britannia!” and all that kind of stuff. No. This kingdom has no boundaries.

Now, the disciples had to understand this in their day. Pilate actually was questioning Jesus about the whole notion of a kingdom. And in the context of that—this is John 18:36—Jesus says to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews.” That makes perfect sense. If his kingdom was temporal and was geographically bounded, then he would do what all other kings, what other leaders had done—namely, establish the borders of his influence, of his sphere of authority, and then seek to secure his unparalleled, unmitigated kingly rule over everything that is there—brooking no rivals and subduing all who rebel. So, if that were the case, then his disciples would have suited themselves up and been ready to defend his cause and to make sure that it was clearly seen.

Herod, of course, at the time of his birth had assumed something like this. That’s why he “was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”[10] He sought to bring an end to the kingdom before it even began by making sure that every boy under the age of two was liquidated.[11] That’s what he was trying to do to make sure the kingdom would never come to fruition.

And in the same way, in Luke’s Gospel, the Pharisees began asking Jesus when the kingdom of God would come, and he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed.”

“Well, then what’s happening?”

“Well,” he said, “the kingdom of God is not going to be such that you can say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.’”[12]

“What does that mean?”

“I’m the King. If I’m here, the kingdom’s here.”

Now, you see how important this is for us as Christian believers. I know sometimes you think that there’s a measure of my sort of British imperialism that bleeds into my preaching—that I am a somewhat reluctant member of “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” It’s not true at all. So I hope you won’t take it personally; I’ve tried to let you know that the British Empire is long gone. But I want you to know the American empire is pretty well long gone as well. But don’t be alarmed. ’Cause we’re not here to establish the British Empire or the American empire or any other empire. As we live in this world, because we’re members of the kingdom, a kingdom that is established by peace, we are committed to peace; a kingdom that is framed by justice, we’re committed to justice; a kingdom that is defined by righteousness, we are committed to righteousness. But there is no place on the face of the earth that is peculiarly selected by God to be the sphere of his influence.

The believers have come to Mount Zion already,[13] Hebrews tells us, to the reality of things as they are now, not to what they’re going to be in some localized physical form later on. This is not a throne that is a literal throne in a literal Jerusalem for a literal period of time. How can it possibly be? This kingdom begins with the birth of the child. And this is a throne that will never come to an end. Therefore, it can’t last for a thousand years, for a thousand years comes to an end. This kingdom never comes to an end. And that, then, you see, changes the way we view everything.

As Smeaton puts it in The Doctrine of the Atonement [sic], he says, “To convert one sinner from the error of his way, is an event of greater importance, than the deliverance of [an entire] kingdom from temporal evil.”[14] “To convert [a] sinner from his way, is an event of greater importance, than the deliverance of [an entire] kingdom from temporal evil.” Do you see what he’s saying there? Not that the people of God are disinterested in temporal evil or in dealing with the issues of our time. That’s why I’ve just said what I said about peace and justice and righteousness. But at the end of the day, that is not the issue. The issue is that “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”[15] From what does he save? From sin and from all of its implications.

Therefore, our concern for our children must always be—fundamentally be—that we “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,”[16] that they might be able to answer the first question of that catechism—“What is your only hope in life and death?”—“My only hope in life and death is that I do not belong to myself, that I am not my own, but I belong—body and soul, life and death—to God and to my Savior Jesus Christ.”[17] That matters far more than where your children are educated. That matters far more than whether you are successful in your business. That matters far more than whether we have secured the boundaries and borders of our nation, which we love and are prepared to serve. Why? Because we are kids of a kingdom that will never, ever end. It transcends borders and boundaries. It is the ultimate expression of the United Nations. It is the only true expression of the United Nations. But if we think “kingdom” and then think “politics” and then think “nation,” then it skews everything entirely.

An Eternal and Universal Kingdom

This kingdom is neither temporal, nor is it local. What is it, then? Well, it’s the reverse. It is eternal, and it’s universal. It is eternal, and it’s universal. Habakkuk reiterates what God had told Moses when he writes, “The earth shall be filled with … the glory of [God], as the waters cover the sea.”[18] “What is the chief end of man?” to go back to the Shorter Scottish Catechism. (This is catechism morning.) “What is the chief end of man?” The chief end of man is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”[19] What is the predicament of man? That we have exchanged the glory of God for things that creep and crawl and fly—so, the great exchange that has taken place: that we’ve turned our backs on God, and the glory that he deserves, we glorify ourselves.[20] God then, in Jesus, has come and made a great exchange. He has exchanged the place that he deserves for the place that we deserve, so that we, then, might be the beneficiaries of that which he deals with concerning justice and righteousness and peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And it is in light of that that we’re able to read here in verse 7: “[And] of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.”

Now, you will notice that the growth of this kingdom is not as a result of military conquest. That’s how kingdoms have largely grown, often by the tyranny of people. But this kingdom grows as a result of the gracious work of the Spirit of God working in the hearts and minds of men and women as the good news of the gospel is made clear to them.

And you must research this for yourself, but you will find that this comes across as you just read your Bible all the way through. Daniel in chapter 2—the prophet—is confronted by the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar wants an interpretation of his dream. Daniel interprets the dream. He describes for him this amazing, big statue. He describes the way in which these various kingdoms all collapse. And then he makes this declaration:

And in [those] days of [the] kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.[21]

I say to you again this morning: Is this rhetoric, or is this reality? Is this a fantasy world that we’re reading about here? Or is this actually the case? That all the other kingdoms will come and go, but eventually, this kingdom will grow, and it will stand forever—so that today, in mainland China, despite the oppressive nature of the Chinese communist rule, Christianity is explosive. In sub-Saharan Africa, the news that comes out of the rise of Christianity, the impact of Christianity, is just unbelievable. In South America, the same is true. It may be that this is a “day of small things”[22] for us in the Northern Hemisphere. But that is fine, because we’re not concerned about simply ourselves but about a kingdom that knows no borders and no boundaries. That’s why we’re going to send people to Delhi. They’re not going there to take photographs of the crowds. They’re going there to manifest the love of the Lord Jesus. They’re going there to medically intervene in people’s lives, to bring peace into their heartache, to bring rightness into their wrongs.

And when people inquire, “Why would you ever do this?” they’re going to tell them, “Because the love of the Lord Jesus compels me.”

“The Lord who?”

“The Lord Jesus.”

“Who is Jesus?”

“Jesus is the King.”

“The King of what?”

“The King of a kingdom that will never end.”

“How do you get in this kingdom?”

“You become like a little child.”

“How can I become like a little child? I’m a grown man.”

“Funnily, there was a person who’d said the very same thing. He was called Nicodemus. And Jesus…” And so on.

And before you know where you are, there the person says, “Oh, you mean the King has actually died in the place of those who’d become the citizens of his kingdom? I never heard of such a thing.”

A Powerful Kingdom

That brings me to my final word. This kingdom is neither temporal nor local; it is eternal, it is universal, and it is inevitably powerful. Now, I admit there is some artistic dimension to me wanting powerful as the word there. It is powerful insofar as the impact of the kingdom and the accomplishing of these purposes is by, as the final phrase of our study gives us, “the zeal of the Lord of hosts,” who accomplishes this.

You remember, this is the question that Mary, of course, had asked following the angelic visitation. After the angel has finished his speech, there’s only really one question, and she asks it: “How? How? How is this going to be?”[23] And it’s almost as if Isaiah is anticipating the question on behalf of his initial readers, as he has described the illumination and the celebration and all that has taken place, and the person comes to the end of all of that about this child with the four names and so on, and the only question that is reverberating in their mind is “How in the world is this going to happen?” And so he answers it: “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” In other words, these events won’t transpire in any ordinary course of affairs. For all of this to take place, God, unbounded in his power, unlimited in his resources, has to be involved.

And that’s the significance of “the zeal of the Lord of hosts.” That contains a tremendous amount that we don’t have time to enter into this morning. But at least, if you think in terms of a godly sense of jealousy, you’re on the right track—the jealousy that a father has for the care and the purity of his daughters, the jealousy that a spouse has, that a wife has for the unfiltered affection of her husband. It is entirely legitimate; it’s entirely right. It’s the jealousy that an oncologist has for the eradication of cancer when he finds it in you as a patient. It is the zeal of God for his own glory, to protect his own honor, to provide for his own people so that they might be as a light in a dark place.

Alexander says of this, “The astonishing effects produced by feeble means in the promotion, preservation, and extension of [God]’s kingdom, can only be explained upon the principle that the zeal of the Lord of hosts effected it.”[24] Do you see what he’s saying there? He said, “If you think about what we’ve got by way of human product—you know, raw material—for seeing the kingdom of God come in our generation,” he says, “if you think about that, and you think about this promise, then you have to conclude that this is going to have to be the zeal of God that accomplishes this.” I find that very encouraging.

The blessings that are described in these verses are tied exclusively to the one who sits on the throne.

In other words, the blessings that are described in these verses are tied exclusively to the one who sits on the throne. So, for example, Ephesians 2 says of Jesus, “He himself is our peace.”[25] In Romans chapter 3, Paul describes Jesus as the one who is “just and the justifier of [those] who [have] faith in [him].”[26] And in that same passage in Romans 3, he speaks of a righteousness from God that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.[27]

We said a couple of Sundays ago, there is nothing in all of fiction quite as staggering, quite as demanding intellectually, as the truth of the incarnation.[28] I mean, you go back to whatever sphere of influence you have tomorrow, and over coffee, you can perhaps begin to tell your friends, if you’re brave enough, that you were considering yesterday the fact that Jesus Christ is the King over a kingdom that will never, ever come to an end. If they stay for a moment longer, which is unlikely—and the only reason they’ll stay is to conclude that you have totally lost your mind—you may have occasion to advance the ball a little further. And as you’re telling them this story that Jesus is a King, that he has died in the place of those who become his subjects, that he was raised over death and over the grave and hell, and that he sits triumphant in heaven, awaiting the day when he will return and will take to himself those who are ready to meet him—as you hear yourself saying all these things, you just hear yourself: “I can’t believe I’m saying all these things. What does this sound like? Do I sound convincing? No, I don’t. Does this sound inherently believable? No, it doesn’t. Oh dear, oh dear. I wish I’d never said anything to start with.”

Three months later, on a cold day, when the friend that you were talking with over coffee by the machine finds that his son has been incarcerated as a result of his drug dealing, or as a result of a diagnosis of illness, this same fellow who thought you were completely nuts just came back to ask, “You know, I was wondering about that King. I certainly have no ability to rule over the affairs that have confronted me in life. Could you tell me a little more about your King?” Well, if that person’s eyes are ever opened, how will they be opened? Because of “the zeal of the Lord of hosts.” Not in a vacuum. You spoke, you weren’t very good, but don’t worry about it. It’s “the zeal of the Lord of hosts.”

That’s why when Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he says, “Think about your calling, brothers and sisters, when you were called. Not many of you were mighty. Not many of you were noble. Not many of you were significant. It wasn’t that you were in the society pages of Corinth. Frankly, you were the riffraff.”[29] And he said, “But don’t take it personally, because if you remember when I came”—this is 1 Corinthians 2—“when I came to you, I didn’t come with great eloquent words of man’s wisdom; I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.[30] And people were saying, ‘Who’s that little guy? Who’s the baldy little Jewish guy? What’s he on about? What does he have to say? What is he possibly going to do in Corinth? He can say nothing that Corinth wants to hear.’” And then you go into chapter 3, and he says, “And I’m really surprised that after such a short period of time, you’ve decided that you have your heroes and your champions, and you’re lining up behind them. One says, ‘I am of Paul.’ One says, ‘I am of Apollos.’ One says, ‘I am of Cephas.’” He says, “Don’t you realize? We’re nothing! Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.”[31] It’s “the zeal of the Lord of hosts” that accomplishes this. It is this King who will reign forever and ever.

Now, in my Christmas reading—and with this I will stop—in my Christmas reading, I included The Last Battle, Chronicles of Narnia. And I read it, actually, on my iPad, but only for convenience’s sake, and then I went and bought it yesterday so that I can scribble in it. But it really is good if you haven’t read it. It’s a great start. You need a great start to a book. I read this out loud, actually, to my wife, and she was immediately hooked. We were in bed together, but you don’t need all the details. And it was early in the morning.

“In the last days of Narnia, far up to the West beyond Lantern Waste and close behind the great waterfall, there lived an Ape.” You see, at that point I am in. That’s good. An ape. “He was so old that no one could remember when he had first come to live in [these] parts, and he was the cleverest, ugliest, most wrinkled Ape you can imagine.” Okay. “He had a little house, built of wood and thatched with leaves, up in the fork of a great tree, and his name was Shift.” It’s a great name, isn’t it? If you’re going to have an ape, call him Shift. “There were very few Talking Beasts or Men or Dwarfs, or people of any sort, in that part of the wood, but Shift had one friend and neighbour who was a donkey called Puzzle.”[32] It’s great.

Anyway, this is how it ends. Eventually, you go through the whole story; it gets to the end. Now they’re out of the Shadowlands; they’re into the reality of things. You’ve got Peter, you’ve got Edmund, you’ve got Lucy, and Lucy’s concerned that Aslan is going to tell her that she has to leave. Aslan says, “No, you never have to leave.” She says, “But we’ve had to leave before.” He says, “No, but don’t you understand?”

Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away …. [You’ve] sent us back to our own world so often.”

“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed!”

Their hearts leaped, and a wild hope rose within them.

… “Your father and mother and all of you are—as you used to call it in the Shadowlands—dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.[33]

What is Lewis describing here? First Corinthians 2:9: “Eye has not seen” (it is invisible), “nor ear heard” (it is inaudible), “neither has it entered into the heart of man” (it’s inconceivable), “the things that God has prepared for them that love him.”[34] And how has he brought this about? He has brought this about in the gift of his Son. And when John has the curtain pulled back for a wee minute, and he looks over into the reality of what is to come, what does he write? He says, “And I saw a throne. I saw a throne, and it was there in heaven,”[35] and “The kingdom of [this] world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he [will] reign forever and ever.”[36]

Are you in that kingdom? Have you bowed your knee to that King? Have you submitted to his authority? Have you been knighted as a knight of the realm? You may. You may. Believe him. Trust him. Bow to him. Ask him.

Father, thank you for the opportunity to study the Bible together. Thank you that “your word is … fixed in the heavens,”[37] that it will accomplish its purposes, that it never, ever returns empty to you;[38] it always achieves the design and desire you have for it. So fulfill your purposes in our lives today. Help us, Lord, to realize that we become citizens of this kingdom one at a time, as we come and do exactly what Jesus said: repent—change of heart, change of mind, change of direction concerning who you are and all that you’ve done upon the cross—and then we believe this good news that you died in our place, that you bore our punishment. Hear our prayers. For your Son’s sake. Amen.


[1] John Ellerton, “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended” (1870).

[2] Isaiah 9:6 (KJV).

[3] Paul Simon, “The Sound of Silence” (1964).

[4] Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley, “Cloudy” (1967).

[5] Judges 21:25 (paraphrased).

[6] 2 Samuel 7:13, 16 (paraphrased).

[7] Luke 1:26–28 (ESV).

[8] Luke 1:29–33 (ESV).

[9] Mark 1:15 (paraphrased).

[10] Matthew 2:3 (ESV).

[11] See Matthew 2:16.

[12] Luke 17:20–21 (paraphrased).

[13] See Hebrews 12:22.

[14] John Newton, “Messiah Suffering and Wounded for Us,” inWorks of the Rev. John Newton (New York: Williams and Whiting, 1810), 4:228.

[15] Luke 2:11 (ESV).

[16] Ephesians 6:4 (KJV).

[17] Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 1. Paraphrased.

[18] Habakkuk 2:14 (KJV).

[19] The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 1.

[20] See Romans 1:23.

[21] Daniel 2:44 (ESV).

[22] Zechariah 4:10 (ESV).

[23] Luke 1:34 (paraphrased).

[24] Joseph Addison Alexander, Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah, rev. ed., ed. John Eadie (Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot and James Thin, 1865), 1:207.

[25] Ephesians 2:14 (ESV).

[26] Romans 3:26 (ESV).

[27] See Romans 3:22.

[28] J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), 46.

[29] 1 Corinthians 1:26 (paraphrased).

[30] 1 Corinthians 2:1, 3 (paraphrased).

[31] 1 Corinthians 3:4, 7 (paraphrased).

[32] C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (1956), chap. 1.

[33] Lewis, chap. 16.

[34] 1 Corinthians 2:9 (paraphrased).

[35] Revelation 4:2 (paraphrased).

[36] Revelation 11:15 (ESV).

[37] Psalm 119:89 (ESV).

[38] See Isaiah 55:11.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.